MORE than 200 cleaners, catering staff, porters and other facilities management staff are on strike across York Teaching Hospitals Trust today in a dispute over plans to transfer their jobs to another company.

Staff walked out this morning as part of the first 48-hour strike they have taken on this issue.

Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central, was meeting workers on the picket line and urged the hospital to pause plans to transfer facilities management staff to a new subsidiary company.

The NHS staff are due to be transferred on October 1 but Ms Maskell said NHS Improvement has called for all such plans to be paused while they develop a new criteria, which would then be consulted on.

Chris Daly, regional officer for Unite the Union, said about 250 members across the trust's York, Bridlington and Scarborough sites are taking part in the strike action, which runs until Saturday.

He said he is pleased with the turnout and that patients and members of the public have been supportive.

Mr Daly added that the union has met with the hospital to put plans in place to make sure there is appropriate cover in case of any emergency.

But a spokesman for York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said they are not aware of the NHS Improvement “solution” and just over 1,000 staff will transfer to the new company.

They said only one of three unions voted for industrial action, with about 200 members taking part, and added: “We have a great deal of respect for Rachael Maskell, and for her support for our staff, however we are disappointed to hear these comments as we have had constructive discussions about why we are taking this step.

"It is not the case that we are treating staff with contempt, we have been in discussion with affected staff for many months, and they will keep their existing NHS terms and conditions in full, including access to the NHS Pension Scheme and the NHS pay increase.

"Rather than breaking up the NHS, the approach we are taking means that the Trust retains control and responsibility for its services, and avoids the need for outsourcing these services to the private sector."